You started the year with great plans and expectations, but sometime during the month of March, the work seemed to end. It was if your customers went into hiding and your telephone stopped ringing. If you are a retail business or retail store, you had to shut down. You had to layoff much of the staff you had hired and trained over a period of months and years. You found yourself disheartened and in a state of crisis.… Read the rest
As we work with small and emerging businesses, one of the most rewarding milestones is when the business leader is able to read and evaluate the state of their business by reading and understanding their monthly financial statement. Most start-up business leaders manage their businesses by the balance in their checkbook. This is understandable since they must have the funds to pay employees, supplier and feed their family. As they grow, this is not enough to control and manage their business. They must develop an understanding of the profitability of the work that they do and its ability to cover the expenses generated. Is there enough income to pay for advertising, administration salaries, rent, taxes, etc.?… Read the rest
When a business owner or manager is asked to describe their greatest challenge, the response is, too often, an obvious symptom. My competitors’ undercut my prices. I need to find a better location, but this is all I can afford. I can’t find good employees who will provide good customer service. These are the stated obvious issues, but they will not help us get past the obvious and lead to developing a plan for business success.… Read the rest
We were recently asked by an Agent in Charge of a real estate office to make a presentation to a number of new realtors. He explained to me that although they had extensive sales and legal training, they had little understanding of how to build a successful business. Real Estate Agents are, in fact, independent contractors and although the agency provides much support, success is the result of their own plans and efforts. The agent explained to me that many had never been in business for themselves before and find this a new experience. In fact, 80 percent don’t make it to the second year.
I first explained to the group that I was not an expert on real estate sales, but would share with them my observations on how small businesses had grown to be successful.… Read the rest
One of the key ingredients in building a successful business is financial control. As we work with clients, we often find that they are managing their business through their checkbook. If there’s cash in their checking account at the end of the week, they can make their payroll and pay their bills. That’s the extent of their control. Real financial control comes when the manager knows that the operation is profitable and can build it successfully. The first step in increasing this level of financial control is the development of a budget associated with one business plan and reviewed on a regular basis. Let’s consider three areas of budgeting; building the budget, reviewing the budget, and cash versus accrual accounting.… Read the rest
Over the last few years, we have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of family businesses. As students of formal business education, we have had to learn to adapt to the family business environment because it differs from that which is associated with Corporate America. From that experience,there are a number of ideas which we would like to share:… Read the rest
Many companies, who cannot employee full time salesman to cover a market segment or demographic region, utilize sales agents. Webster defines a sales agent as: one who is authorized or appointed by a manufacturer to sell or distribute his products within a given territory but who is self-employed, may or may not take title to the goods, and does not act as an agent for a principal. These agents can be a very valuable part of the sales effort but are often drastically underutilized. Let’s consider some of the misconceptions about agents and how to optimize their value in your sales effort.
The first question is Do you really need a salesperson at all? In today’s, internet connected world, a sales person is only of value if there is no need for interactive person-to-person communication. … Read the rest
In his book, Traction-Getting a Grip on Your Business, Gino Wickman tells a story which needs to be consider by both businesses and nonprofits. Picture a small plane flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Halfway across the captain announces.” I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news. The bad news is that the gauges aren’t working. We are hopelessly lost. I have no idea how fast we are flying or in what direction and I don’t know how much fuel we have left. The good news is that we’re making great time. Management meetings often center on solving the crisis of the day or celebrating the lasts success, but metrics, the airplane’s gauges, are not often reviewed.… Read the rest
Over the last 13 years we have had the opportunity to work with a number of small businesses, all owned by an individual, with some degree of family involvement. It has been truly a unique learning experience because the majority of my business background was either with larger corporations or in the academic community. In that environment, great importance was placed on growing revenue and profit. While most of these smaller businesses are motivated to grow and be more profitable, several are more interested in sustainability. Maintaining a family-centered life style can often be a chief motivator.
Our focus has not been on brand new businesses that might be classified as start-up. Our clients tend to be already well established businesses who may be in need of making changes required achieve higher levels of success.… Read the rest
Surveys have indicated that most workers have had a bad boss. I have, haven’t you? They are slow to praise, but quick to point out errors. They spend most of their time in their office and leadership meeting. They are seldom seen wandering through the office and talking with the staff. A survey conducted by the Chicago based LaSalle network discovered that most people have had a bad boss.… Read the rest
Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.” Mr. Buffet is considered one of the smartest investors in the modern era. One might say that he is a very knowledgeable investor. What makes him a knowledgeable investor? I would suggest that he works hard to become knowledgeable in the companies in which he invests. He learns to know their management, their product/services, their people, their plans, their competitors, their markets, their technologies and their people. He never assumes anything or works on a tip. He is in a constant search for knowledge.… Read the rest
I am reminded of a moment in Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth Bennet, “I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so as I ought, nor their offences against myself.” She then admits, “My good opinion once lost is lost forever.” In our consideration of leadership we must understand that trust is a quality developed over time but easily lost. It is an essential part of the leadership attributes of anyone who leads a business or organization.
Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, “Look for 3 things in a person, intelligence, energy, and integrity. If they don’t have the first one, don’t even bother with the first two.”
Every entrepreneur I have ever talked to has had to come face to face with his/her fears. I have had to as well. I want to share with you some of the techniques I have used to face them.
The first step is not to be in denial. You have fears even if you don’t readily acknowledge them. They sometimes take the form of chatter in the back of your head that says you can’t do it.… Read the rest
One of the skills necessary for success in any business or nonprofit organization is the ability to chart a course. To properly chart a course, it is important to understand first where you are, than where you want to go, and finally the plan on how to get there. If you have ever been in a new town and wanted to go out to dinner, you might have first looked for a restaurant in a magazine. You then call to find out where they were located. The first question you were asked by the person in the restaurant is where are you now? In fact, you have just taken the first step in charting a course to dinner.… Read the rest
Are you looking to be more successful? Here are ten ways to grow your small business.
Know yourself. Do a SLOT analysis. What are your strengths, your limitations, opportunities, and threats? Examine and understand each. In every strength, there is a limitation and in every limitation there is a strength (e.g. you are small so lack financial clout; the advantage is by necessity you will be more creative). The better you know yourself the more successful you will be. By knowing yourself you not only know your areas of opportunity, you know what areas to avoid.
In his book, The E-Myth RevisitedMichael Gerber describes the roles played by different personalities within a business. The first is the technician, who actually does the work or delivers the service in the business. The second is the manager, who organizes and controls the business on a daily basis. The third is the entrepreneur who best understand the business environment and leads it though changes necessary for continued success. One might conclude that knowledge of actual working in the business or managing the operation of the business does not always lead to success. What leads to success is knowledge of how a business needs to operate within its competitive market place.… Read the rest
Success and Failure in Business
One of our passions at RLS Focused Solutions is to help businesses be successful and sustainable. Each business must define for itself what success means. It may be just to make a good living or it might be to grow and prosper. Our definition of sustainability is that it will be prosperous, not just at a point in time, but well into the future. We are one of approximately 600 worldwide members of Resource Associates Corporation who has reported the results of work done to determine the difference between successful and unsuccessful business people. Let us consider their findings.
Start Your Year Off Right / Goals for a Successful 2016
This program, originally announced in the Quill last month is also available to organizations and groups. It is ideally suited for groups of six to eight people from one company or organization. It would provide the organizational leadership, such as department heads, an organized forum during which they could review their 2015 accomplishment and set their goals for 2016. Our program for the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce will include representative from a number of diversified business and is described in the last month’s article.… Read the rest
I am often asked the same two questions. Do I need a business plan? What should I include in my business plan? I am going to answer these questions when writing this article. Do I require a business plan? For most businesses the answer to this question would be yes. For the majority of new businesses and ones which require investment by way of a loan or a business partner, a business plan is a must.… Read the rest
Many of us have spent countless hours thinking about and documenting plans for either our business or non-profit organization. There is a sense of satisfaction with the completion of the final draft that is shared by all involved. Far too often that document is filed or left in a desk drawer to be revised in a year’s time. Many have even reported that they gave up on the planning process because it just didn’t work. I often remember the president of a very well-managed company once stating that the team had become expert on writing business plans, but not real good on making them a reality.